U.S. Capitol Police arrested a man carrying a bayonet and machete in a truck bearing white supremacist symbols near the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington on Monday.
Donald Craighead, 44, of Oceanside, California, was arrested for possession of prohibited weapons. Both bayonets and machetes are illegal in Washington, according to police.
Local and federal law enforcement have been preparing for a Sept. 18 rally meant to falsely paint the arrests of members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol as politically motivated. But police said it was unclear why Craighead was in the area, and his father told USA TODAY he did not believe his son was there to attend the demonstration.
Craighead's father, Donald W. Craighead, said his son has been long troubled by mental illness and drug abuse.
He described his son as a drifter who has been drawn to white nationalist ideology, though he said he did not believe he arrived in Washington to attend Saturday’s scheduled rally to support those implicated in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
“He’s not a Trump supporter; I don’t think he’s ever hurt anyone,” the father said.
As recently as three weeks ago, the father said Craighead was jailed in southwest Virginia for driving a truck with stolen license plates. He said his son told him that he purchased the truck unaware that the plates were stolen.
“He calls me any time he is in jail,” the father said, adding that his son also has spent time in a Montana jail in connection to fraud charges. “We have done all we could to help him. I’m glad they (police) got him, because we don’t want anybody to be hurt.”
Craighead was arrested early Monday near the DNC headquarters in the 500 block of South Capitol Street, about half a mile south of the U.S. Capitol.
A source with knowledge of the situation said Craighead was not believed to be interested in the DNC.
A patrol officer noticed the Dodge Dakota pickup with a swastika and other white supremacist symbols outside the DNC headquarters around midnight. A picture of an American flag replaced the truck's license plate.
Photos posted to the U.S. Capitol Police Twitter account show a black truck with a red stripe down the side and antlers mounted through the front grill.
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) September 13, 2021
A swastika was drawn on the driver's side mirror, and a quarter was mounted at the center of a swastika drawn just inside the door. The word "confederate" was written over the dashboard, with a Norse rune common in white supremacist iconography replacing the letter "O."
Officers saw the bayonet and machete inside the truck, according to police. Craighead told police he was "on patrol," and "began talking about white supremacist ideology," according to a press release.
“We are thankful for Capitol police containing this threat, and can’t comment further on the specifics of this ongoing investigation," DNC Executive Director Sam Cornale said in a prepared statement. “DNC employees are real human beings who fight tirelessly for a better America, and their safety, security, and well-being – physical, mental and emotional – are the top priorities of DNC leadership. This suspect's apparent views are despicable, and violence and white supremacy have no place in our country.”
Incidents in 2021 at or near US Capitol
The Capitol has been the site of several incidents since a mob attempted to stop certification of the presidential election results on Jan. 6.
The night before the riot, two pipe bombs were placed near the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees, but federal authorities have not yet apprehended a suspect seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.
Then in April, a U.S. Capitol Police officer was killed when a car rammed a barrier at the Capitol. In August, police arrested a North Carolina man who claimed to be carrying a bomb in a pickup truck near the Capitol.
Check back with USA TODAY for more on this developing story.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Capitol Police arrest man with machete, bayonet in truck near DNC HQ